ATHENS, Ga.—Last week, Georgia head coach Mark Richt indicated the Bulldogs had five wide receivers he was rather confident were “game ready.” During today’s practice, that number likely dropped to four in an instant.
Running an out pattern during a passing drill, senior wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley suddenly went down with what appeared to be a right leg or knee injury. In obvious pain and frustration, Scott-Wesley was first helped off the field by teammates, then a trainer, only to finally walk off on his own.
Scott-Wesley is no stranger to missing time with the Bulldogs. As a sophomore in 2013, he led Georgia in receiving yards entering the fifth game of the season until tearing his ACL at Tennessee. In the 21 games since, Scott-Wesley has been limited to five catches while enduring injuries and serving a suspension last season. This year, he was anticipated to be one of the Bulldogs’ biggest weapons at wide out.
Still, there was no word on the severity of the injury by the close of practice. The assistant coaches available for post-practice interviews all deferred to their head coach when asked about Scott-Wesley’s injury. Richt won’t be available to the media until Thursday.
The primary question facing the Bulldogs since the start of spring practice has been, who is their leading candidate to start at quarterback? Now, perhaps a bigger concern should be, what receivers remain for that starter to actually throw to?
“I think Malcolm [Mitchell] has had a really good camp; Reggie Davis certainly [as well],” said offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who met with the media for the first time during fall camp. “Certainly, Isaiah McKenzie had a great spring.”
Mitchell, a fifth-year senior, enters the 2015 campaign with 116 catches, 1,485 receiving yards, and 11 receiving touchdowns for his career, ranking 15th, 17th, and 19th, respectively, in Georgia football history. McKenzie, who entered fall camp listed as a starting receiver opposite Mitchell after making six receptions in 2014 as a true freshman, was known more for his returning of kickoffs and punts than as a receiver a year ago. Davis, a speedy junior, made only 17 receptions his freshman and sophomore seasons combined, but averaged nearly 20 yards per catch.
“Is there a number count?” Schottenheimer asked out loud regarding the number of “game ready” receivers Georgia currently has on its roster. “No. But, we do know there’s some young guys we’re counting on that need to come in, pick up what we’re doing, and make plays.”
The leading “young guy” at receiver the Bulldogs are counting on in 2015 is Terry Godwin, a five-star prospect out of Callaway HS in Hogansville, Ga. Described as a “playmaker” by Schottenheimer, Godwin has already been required during fall camp to play several roles in Georgia’s offense; nonetheless, he has picked up on Schottenheimer’s system rather quickly.
Other receivers the Bulldogs signed in February are Jayson Stanley (Fairburn, Ga.), Shaquery Wilson (Coral Gables, Fla.), and Michael Chigbu (New Orleans, La.). If Scott-Wesley is sidelined, Chigbu could very well be Georgia’s fifth receiver in the pecking order behind Mitchell, McKenzie, Davis, and Godwin. Described by Schottenheimer as having the “body type you like,” the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Chigbu is strong and physical and, although seemingly not a deep threat, could develop into the ultimate possession receiver. When asked last week, however, Chigbu was certainly willing to do everything as a Bulldog receiver: run short routes, go long, and anything else in between.
“I’m just a wide receiver—I have to do both,” Chigbu said regarding if he was more of a possession receiver, or a deep threat. “You can’t just be one type of guy—you got to do everything.”
Considering Scott-Wesley being out indefinitely, plus Georgia losing to graduation three of its four leading receivers from last season, it would appear Chigbu, and most of the rest of his receiving mates, at least for now, have little choice but to do both—to do everything.